It occurred to me earlier today that this week (week of February 20, 2012) marks the five year anniversary of Crisp Public Relations, a business that was never supposed to be a long term enterprise but that has become something dear to me.
In late 2006/early 2007, I left a wonderful job at a small agency in Atlanta that caters exclusively to telecommunication and technology clients. I didn’t leave because of the people there (who are all great), the clients (all of whom I was proud to work for) or the work itself (which was definitely fun and challenging). Simply stated, I left because of the traffic in Atlanta. I had a little money saved and figured “why stay somewhere where almost 1/3 of my waking life is in the car?” That isn’t meant as a slight against that great city – it just wasn’t a good fit for me at that time.
My plan was to begin searching for a new job in another city with better public transit or less traffic.
While looking for my next job in the industry, I moved back to my hometown of Marion, N.C. to be closer to my parents and my sister. While working my connections in the industry, I reached out to Bob Cook, a colleague, who, about 10 years ago, had owned and worked at an advertising agency employed by one of my clients. After selling his very successful business to members of his staff, Bob was (and still is) semi-retired (which is to say, he will probably never retire – he loves the work too much). While he didn’t have any job leads, he did have a project he needed PR support on – specifically a joint venture between Dow Chemical and Reichhold called (creatively enough) Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex. I first started on that account this week five years ago.
That project allowed me to forego my job hunt and spend my “spare time” looking for additional clients. Additionally, I found a lot of project work thanks to some great people in the industry, including Reed and Kristie Byrum with The Byrum Innovation Group in Greenville S.C. (Kristie had been my boss at Henderson Advertising and remains a dear friend), Peter Baron with Carabiner Communications in Atlanta, Dan Attenberger (and crew) at AGP & Associates in Midland, MI and Woody Stoudemire with Gotham Strategic Marketing in Hickory, N.C.
A few years ago, Dow Reichhold Specialty Latex closed operations when Dow acquired Rohm and Haas and needed to dissolve the JV due to potential competitive conflicts or compliance issues. By then, however, Crisp Public Relations had a strong list of dedicated clients (and has since acquired more).
It was never my goal to start my own practice – or to move back to Western North Carolina – but I am thankful that it has worked out this way. It allows me to practice Public Relations the way I feel it should be done, relying upon my own professional ethics and beliefs as I work with clients. I end each day knowing that every hour I billed to my clients that day was spent on actually public relations – and never the administrative tasks that accompany agency life.
So, as I begin the sixth year of my business, I felt the need to tell this little story and take a moment to reflect on where my career has led me. I still, today, work with Bob –albeit on a different client – as well as work I found independently.
Most importantly, I realize that I would have never been able to take that first step – or have the success I do today – without a lot of help from other people, not limited too (but definitely including) those mentioned in this article. I can only wish that they all feel as content and happy in their careers as I do today.